Monday, January 23, 2012

Vanessa Deserves Half... Yeah I Said It!

The moment a celebrity divorce hits the airwaves, the speculation begins, “I wonder how much she’s going to get!” immediately followed by the debate on spousal support and alimony. “Why did Jordan’s wife get half? She didn’t win any championships!” Interestingly, the conversation isn’t even split along gender lines; many women believe that the wife doesn’t deserve half of the men’s earnings and many men believe that the husband should give the money up.

(By the way, I realize that sometimes, the woman is the breadwinner and in some rare cases ends up owing alimony to their ex husband. However this post will deal primarily with what happens the majority of the time; money-making husbands ceding half of their fiscal earnings to their ex-wife.)

In most cases, I’m inclined to believe that the ex-wife should get half of what was earned throughout the marriage. Before you slam your laptop/ipad/droid/flip phone down in disgust, let me explain the 3 fundamental reasons why I believe as such:

1. Marriage is an extremely serious (ideally) life-long commitment; there are no take-backs. Those vows are heavy and vital for a reason. You are committing to not only spend your entire life with someone, but to share it with that person. You share a home, you share germs, and you share important life decisions. In many cases, (as in Tiger and Elin, Kobe and Vanessa, Jay and Bey) you share what Jay called “[his] greatest creation”, children. Those vows mean that if you lose your job or a limb or if you gain a love handle, it doesn’t matter, you’re in it for the long haul. That’s a LOT to sign on to. And there’s no take backs. If you divorce someone, you don’t get to take back what you gave during the marriage. You already committed to sharing the kids, that tattoo on your arm and yes, the income. Obviously, if you can no longer be married and/or live together, some commitments (such as shared space in the bathroom) are tossed for practical reasons. However, money earned during a marriage is a relatively easy thing to split evenly. You made the commitment; now you gotta stick to it.

2. Marriage has a well-documented history of painful endings. Couples, particularly well-off couples, KNOW going into marriage that there’s a possibility of a costly divorce and an even more costly split. The details of Michael Jordan, Paul McCartney, Mel Gibson, Madonna, and many others’ divorces are public knowledge. You may be surprised to learn that your wife has a really nasty habit of picking her nose while sitting in traffic. But men DO know that if their marriage ends prematurely, especially through some fault of their own, they’re going to lose half of what was earned.
3. Opponents of wives receiving half fail to recognize the value added by the marriage. The public and those outside of a marriage will never know all the little (and big) things a wife did for her husband in that marriage. Speaking figuratively of course, the man brought home the bacon, but someone had to cook it! A few examples:
A. a large part of why Tiger Woods received so many endorsements was because of his All-American family appeal. Tiger Woods gave that public apology about his philandering with those women because the companies he endorsed felt he had sold a lie.  Whether you agree or disagree that he owed the public or his endorsers an apology, he was dropped by several endorsers not because he cheated on his wife; he was dropped because he failed to live up to the image that Gatorade slapped on their bottles. Elin helped him build that money-making image by being his wife.
B. Vanessa Bryant stuck by her husband after he slept with a promiscuous woman unprotected, exposing her to what could have been deathly or worrisome diseases. Furthermore, by jeopardizing his own health, he created the opportunity for Vanessa Bryant to become a widowed, single mother to their children. The world doesn’t know if it was the jewelry, hope, or the promises to do better that made her stay; all we know is that she stayed. I’d say that’s quite an investment that she deserves a return on.
C. There are countless other husbands, not so famous, who receive support and “added value” from their wives throughout their marriage. A wife often provides inspiration for her husband’s next project; a clean, welcoming home for her husband to return to; a smile and joke when her husband is feeling down; an ear for her husband’s problems; and a great partner in raising the kids (wiping their snot, buttoning their coats, attending parent-teacher conferences, reviewing their homework, admonishing them not to put their mouth on the water fountain, saying their prayers with them at night and it goes on). Husbands can go off to work assured that someone with a shared interest in his kids and home is taking care of it. You may say, “But that’s what she’s supposed to do; it’s her job as the wife and mother!” I agree, it is her job; and that’s why she needs to be paid for her services. A wife’s responsibility to her husband are an all-inclusive package with no hard costs. But when the marriage no longer exists, those costs have to be invoiced.
Here is where I usually ask you specific questions to get some feedback. But I have faith that my controversial statements are enough to get some of you to respond. Let’s go. What do YOU think?